Sunday, January 29, 2006

If you are thinking of or already have claimed Bankruptcy these are the things you need to know...

The Bankruptcy Nightmare and How to Re-establish your Credit

The Bankruptcy Nightmare
Maybe you lost your job due to downsizing, or a maybe you’ve gone through a recent divorce or split that made it impossible to pay back the debt you owe? Someone in your family might have got ill and you didn’t have insurance to cover the lost income. Even if you have lost a loved one and didn’t adequately plan for it, what ever your circumstance may be this can be the beginning of a long tiresome journey and will require some hard work to recover on your part.

Creditors on Your Back
There are many situations in which we find ourselves falling behind on our payments, not being able to even pay the minimum payment amount each month. We get so far behind that there is no way to catch up. It’s not a good feeling. Then the creditors start calling demanding their money when you just don’t have it, especially when they don’t seem to care or don’t even try to understand your situation, they just want their money and will use all kinds of scare tactics to get it back regardless of what your going through. Dont worry your not alone. There are many good people just like you that find themselves in these situations where there is just no other alternative but to claim bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy is not fun and it will affect all aspects of your life. Some people find themselves in the most difficult financial situations and have taken every course of action available to avoid bankruptcy, but end up having to. Others have the most minute problems and claim bankruptcy to solve their financial problems short term. Claiming bankruptcy is not a long term solution, it is a last resort or alternative if you have exhausted all other options.

Remember bankruptcy should be the last resort only when you have exhausted all other options! Not just for a small amount such as $10,000
There are consumer proposal programs available for small amounts.

However since life is not a bowl of cheerios many people find themselves in situations where there is just no other choice but to claim bankruptcy.

What to expect when Claiming Bankruptcy
Going through bankruptcy is tough, first you seek out a bankruptcy trustee, and then he gathers your information. He calls your creditors and lets them know you are claiming bankruptcy. Most times this doesn’t stop the creditors from calling they still want their money. Then depending on your trustee you will have to go to counseling meetings, these will be about how to manage your money and follow a budget so this won’t happen again. You are obligated to do attend these meetings and it is a requirement before you are discharged. The bankruptcy trustee will take your income tax return as part of payment. So you will get $0 of it. A discharge will be granted after the 9 months and the easiest part is over. Some creditors don’t stop calling you even if you have claimed bankruptcy. Even after you have been discharged some creditors still try to recover their money and may send it to a third party for collections. So there are a lot of problems associated with claiming bankruptcy. Most times you can’t keep your leased car through a bankruptcy even if you show the ability to keep up the payments, the car dealership will demand the car be brought back and yes they could even repossess it. So bankruptcy is not just your average nightmare and not easy to go through, so think about bankruptcy as your absolute last resort.

So it happened, how do fix it and make sure it doesn’t happen again?
Re-establishing credit after is a little trickier. It’s also embarrassing. Whenever you go to apply for any kind of credit or even to apply for a rental apartment they will see that you have claimed bankruptcy. So expect to be turned down wherever you go.

Steps Required in Re-establishing Credit

  • Apply for a secured visa, the day of your discharge!
You can apply for a Home Trust Secured Visa ($2000 minimum) online or you can fax the application. If both you and your spouse have claimed bankruptcy you both need to re establish credit. (Remember this is a stepping stone to help you re-establish your credit)

  • Keep all credit in good standing
Remember any bad credit, collections or judgments after bankruptcy will reflect extremely poorly on your credit rating and you will find yourself in a worse predicament than before because every creditor will be hesitant to extend you credit ever again. That means no missed payments, no slow payments and no going over your credit limit!!! *Very important to keep in mind.

  • Dont go applying everywhere for credit
All lenders can see where and how many places you have applied for credit from your credit bureau and decline you based on just that. Applying for credit too many times also brings your credit rating down. This means you have less of a chance getting approved and you will pay higher interest rates. So do some research first and see what each particular lender bases their lending criteria on and make sure it matches your situation.

  • Dont over extend yourself
Know your financial limitations and stick to a budget. Most financial lending institutions are happy to extend you credit regardless of what your circumstances may be in the future or if it would suit your long term objectives.

So be aware of what you are getting yourself into.
Ask yourself these questions:

Will I be able to afford this if…

  • There was a lost income in the household

  • Someone becomes ill and cannot work

  • The rent, hydro, gas prices go up

  • Unexpected household repairs or the appliances need replacing

  • Unexpected car repair expense

There are many more questions that will be unique to your specific situation. You should make a list and see if you can answer the questions truthfully. If you can’t then you should think about a lower loan amount to make sure you can afford it.

  • Talk to a credit counselor. If you are not sure of something speak with your local credit counselor, most of them will give free advice, most of them are non-profit organizations.
  • Plan; make a budget to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Maybe that means taking out some illness or disability insurance, but its well worth it in the end. Planning ahead makes things a lot easier and you have more control over your finances when you put a budget in place. Adequate planning may prevent a bad situation from turning even worse...
  • Keeping your credit in good standing for at least 6 -12 months after discharge will show that you are doing everything to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. The lenders may still charge you more in interest fees but this is your best chance of starting over.

Qualifying for a Mortgage after Bankruptcy

  • If you plan to apply for a mortgage 6-12 months after your discharge you must have 25% down and some reestablished credit.
  • To qualify for a CMHC insured mortgage without as much as 25% down you have to wait 2 years after discharge and you must have reestablished credit with no bad credit after discharge. If you and your spouse have claimed bankruptcy together both of you will need to have re established credit.

Some quick tips and advice:
Keep your credit cards under 75% of the limit. Keep a balance of at least 25% at all times. Make your regular minimum monthly payments + some on time, every time. There are not excuses for being late anymore. Sign up for online access through your bank and add the lenders to your payees list. Payment can be made with just a click. You can always get direct withdrawal to make things even easier, but make sure you write down on your calendar the date the payment will come out and make sure the funds are there. If you have insufficient funds you will get a bank charge form $35 to $50 depending on the branch and this will count as a late payment.

Good Luck and remember it takes a little work to recover after a bankruptcy so don’t expect it to be easy but if you follow the plan you can again be a respected by the lenders.

Rachelle Czartorynskyj Mortgage Professional

Mortgage Source Canada - Canada's online leading mortgage source for excellent rates and a wide variety of mortgage products. We specialize in home mortgages, refinances, debt consolidation and bad credit mortgages.

Monday, January 23, 2006

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Sunday, January 22, 2006